"It’s mean to say it, but here goes: one of the things that has always fascinated me about the actors of the silent era, especially the sex symbols, is just how plain, ordinary, even ugly, many of them are," writes Kira Cochrane at the Guardian, focusing in on Theda Bara, "the original on-screen vamp." It takes seeing Bara in motion on film (only four of Bara’s film survive) for Cochrane to comprehend her appeal: "On screen, that face comes into its own – so much so that when you learn that her character’s malevolence has led one man to jail, another to beggary, and her most recent victim to a very public suicide, you believe it. Rudolph, eat your heart out."
At the LA Weekly, Ella Taylor writes about (and then talks with) Julie Christie. On seeing her in "Doctor Zhivago": "Though I wasnâ€™t a movie buff and had no thoughts of becoming a film critic, the David Lean epic stirred in me the rudiments of a film sensibility, for that was the night I became dimly aware that even the cheesiest movie can be set on fire by a natural-born star."
Philippa Hawker at The Age looks at Tony Leung:
On screen, no one’s mastered the art of losing better than Tony Leung. Renunciation, disappointment, rejection, betrayal: he has experienced them all. If you concentrate on some of his best-known roles â€” in In the Mood for Love, Happy Together, Infernal Affairs, Hero â€” he can look like the patron saint of unrequited love, the epitome of repressed emotion.
Ty Burr at the Boston Globe dwells on Anna Faris and her "knack for being the very best thing in very bad movies":
The new film from writer-director Gregg Araki ("Mysterious Skin") gives the deceptively ditzy actress, 30, a rare leading role as a stoner having an extremely bad day. Even rarer, Faris is allowed to give a full-on comedy performance: rubber-faced, loose-limbed, proudly unsubtle. At times watching the character you can’t help thinking: This is Lucy Ricardo. This is Lucy Ricardo on drugs.
And, for contrast, here’s something from Janet Maslin‘s review of Andrew Mortonâ€™s "Tom Cruise: An Unauthorized Biography," which could only be viewed as an appreciation of an actor in the sense that in every dedicated act of provocation is nestled a gem of love:
In the case of Mr. Cruise, Mr. Morton sees a domineering, aggressive character who has joined forces with Scientology to catapult his activities beyond the realm of mere glitter. â€œMore than any star today,â€ Mr. Morton writes, â€œTomâ€ â€” naturally heâ€™s on a first-name basis â€” â€œis a movie messiah who reflects and refracts the fears and doubts of our times, trading on the unfettered power of modern celebrity, our embrace of religious extremism and the unnerving scale of globalization.â€ The book asserts that â€œthe relentless expansion of the organization and its front groups has been made possible by the charm and persuasiveness of its poster boy, whose modernity, familiarity and friendliness mask the totalitarian zeal of his faith.â€
+ If looks could kill (Guardian)
+ Miss Julie (LA Weekly)
+ Forever in the mood for Leung (The Age)
+ The very best thing in some very bad movies (Boston Globe)
+ Tom Cruise and His Bully Pulpit (NY Times)